Saturday, October 24, 2020

Health center struggles to find funding, proposes fee increases

With fewer students and less money raised through optional and mandatory fees, Plattsburgh State’s Student Health and Counseling Center has made major financial cutbacks this semester to cope.

SHCC Director Kathleen Camelo and SHCC Finance and Operations Manager Laura Rosenbrock presented their money-saving tactics at the Student Association senate meeting Wednesday night. The presentation contained financial plans already implemented by SHCC and future ones that will follow the next academic year. 

As of now, SHCC has made cutbacks on supplies, educational-related travel and general equipment. 

In addition, it will save $5,200 by no longer providing students with urine culture tests that find harmful germs or sexually-transmitted infections like chlamydia or gonorrhea. Additional savings of $50,369 will be acquired with the purposeful vacancy of the mid-level provider position — nurse practitioners who assist SHCC staff.

Next semester, SHCC will take bigger measures to solve its financial shortcomings.

Camelo and Rosenbrock said the SHCC will continue to leave the mid-level provider position vacant to save money. This will result in fewer appointments available by a trained mental health provider. This equates to approximately 650 patients having less appointment times, according to Rosenbrock.

SHCC will save roughly $29,520 by not having daily providers, nurses or medical technicians. It is also considering a $40 charge for student psychiatry visits. Camelo and Rosenbrock said the projected revenue would be $18,000. However, the current salary of the campus psychiatrist is $95,625.

“This revenue generating fee does not cover the salary,” Rosenbrock writes in her presentation, “but it will help towards her specialized programs.”

Rosenbrock said that SHCC is cutting overtime hours to reduce the cost of salaries, which is 80% of the budget.

Based on all the budgetary changes, Camelo said the SHCC will have a projected balance of only $10,486 for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Given that 100% of SHCC’s revenue comes from students, Camelo and Rosenbrock proposed a $5 increase to the optional medication fee for the next academic year. The fee currently stands at $25 a semester. Camelo and Rosenbrock said increasing the medication fee to $30 will increase the SHCC’s revenue by $12,000 per year, which will cover medications and services.

They also proposed that the mandatory student health fee be raised $10 for the 2020-2021 academic year. The following year, they want the fee raised an additional $9.

Camelo and Rosenbrock said students are visiting the SHCC more often despite the lack of enrollment. SHCC wants to be there for the students who rely on its services.

SA Senator Saran Kaba openly expressed her discontent for the increases in fees.

“I feel like the departments are adding too much money without thinking of the students,” Kaba said. “They have to think of us too.”

Kaba speculates that an increase of fees could very well drop enrollment even further, but Rosenbrock said the SHCC is making do with what it has. They will support students no matter what.

“I know we are hurting the student’s pocket,” Rosenbroke said. “But at the same time, we are making sure that our doors stay open.”      

 

Email Mataeo Smith at cp@cardinalpointsonline.com  


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